Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Over the past five years, 1,394 Missourians have been killed in impaired driving crashes. The choice is yours. Be responsible and make one of your New Year's resolutions be to Drive Clear in the New Year.
Take the Drive Clear in the New Year quiz to learn more about the devastating effects of impaired driving and you will be automatically entered to win one of four $20 gas cards from MFA Oil/Break Time. The contest runs from January 3-7, 2011. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced by 5 p.m. January 7.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Visit MoDOT's homepage at www.modot.org or click directly to the survey here to give your input.
Results, along with other information collected through public involvement activities, will be used to help MoDOT create a statewide rail plan that will focus on three areas: Freight rail development, passenger rail and highway/rail crossing safety.
So speak up! Make tracks to the survey today and share it with someone you know who wants a voice in the future of rail in Missouri.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
|Officer Scott Roach with Meghan Carter, the affiliate executive director for MADD St. Louis.|
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
While my children are thrilled, I have to admit I'd prefer clear, dry weather for our family and the many families traveling this weekend. I'm glad to know MoDOT has been monitoring weather conditions all week and is ready for action even before the wintry mixes begin.
What's it like at MoDOT when that winter wonderland becomes a reality? Check out our post from last week - many employees will be working over the holiday to make sure the roads are treated and plowed, and we hope you'll let us know how we're doing.
In the meantime, it seems Santa has been cleared by the FAA for travel, and the reindeer of course have their secret weapon with Rudolph. The winter wonderland outside shouldn't keep Santa from getting around safely, and MoDOT will be out there doing everything possible to make sure your family has safe travels as well.
Learn more about the safest way to drive in winter weather at http://www.modot.org/newsandinfo/District0News.shtml?action=displaySSI&newsId=63601.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Although the holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, it can also be a very dangerous time on Missouri roads. In 2009, from Christmas Eve through New Year’s weekend, 24 fatalities occurred in traffic crashes on Missouri roads and 122 serious injuries.
Make a new year's resolution to always wear your seat belt and never drive impaired. Seat belts are proven life savers, saving more than 13,000 lives each year. During a crash, being buckled up keeps you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being thrown out of a vehicle is almost always deadly.
Finally, Christmas is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and this year it looks like it’s shaping up to be a very white Christmas in most of Missouri. Allow extra time for your trip and consult MoDOT's Traveler Information Map at www.modot.org to get the latest road conditions.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
- Check your tire pressure and tread condition
- Make sure your antifreeze is at proper levels
- Inspect the oil level and windshield wiper fluid
- Pack a small emergency kit in case of the unexpected
Thursday, December 16, 2010
MoDOT becomes a beehive of activity at the mere hint of snow and ice. On a local level, staff members take a look at the tools they have - weather forecasts, pavement sensors, information from other states, etc. - and put their heads together to determine the best course of action to take. Like the snowflakes falling to the ground, no two storms are alike and neither is the plan of attack.
As each area carries out its action plan for the situation at hand, the information is shared with staff statewide. We use the word "snowcall" to describe the telephone conference calls that take place to make sure we're operating efficiently and effectively on a statewide level. The calls are used to determine what areas may need additional resources, such as people or equipment, and who has staff and trucks to spare. Sometimes, it's the mention that one area is noticing a shift in the storm that puts another region on alert. Other times, it's a heads up that certain chemicals and treatments are working better than others under the particular conditions. Or perhaps its a notice that highways in neighboring states are closed and will affect Missouri travelers. A wrap-up snowcall typically takes place following each winter weather event to determine what went right and what we can do to get better.
While all this is going on behind the scenes, our customer service representatives are busy 24/7 taking calls, providing road condition information and dispatching crews to trouble spots. Other employees are busy inputting data to keep the Traveler Information Map current for motorists. Still others are feeding information to the media and public via Twitter and Facebook.
It's all hands on deck at MoDOT when it comes to keeping roads clear and safe for travel. While we can't fool Mother Nature, we do try to manage what she sends our way!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
While fatalities in Missouri have decreased by 31 percent since 2005, impaired driving fatalities have remained steady, contributing to more than 30 percent of all fatalities. Over the past five years, 1,394 Missourians have been killed in impaired driving crashes.
A Christmas tree was lit in honor of the 281 lives lost last year as a result of impaired driving. Attendees were encouraged to take ornaments to help remember their loved ones.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Heads up! If you’re a regular visitor to our Traveler Information Map (and you should be) the uber popular online app will be down for maintenance this coming Friday, Dec. 10 from noon to 6 p.m.
MoDOT is upgrading the database that runs the map so you’ll have to turn to other sources, such as our toll-free number, for road information during those brief six hours. MoDOT is keeping an eye on the weather. If things look snowy, we’ll postpone the work for a later date.
The upgrade is routine and will not change the operation or appearance of the map.
We’re still open for business! Need to know about a route, work zone or incident Friday afternoon? Call our customer service line at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT. (That’s 1-888-275-6636, by the way).
Monday, December 6, 2010
|Gov. Jay Nixon presents MoDOT employee Curtis Dowden with the 2010 Recycling Award.|
The Missouri State Recycling Program recently announced this year’s winners for top agency and individual for recycling and waste reduction… and MoDOT swept the awards, again!
Curtis Dowden, a MoDOT senior materials inspector, won the individual award for his recycling efforts. Dowden started a plastics recycling program in Willow Springs and collects about 70 pounds of it every week. Dowden recycles the plastic, which decreases trash hauling costs and waste that would end up in an area landfill. The New Franklin Parkway project helped MoDOT secure the team award. This green effort included removing a bridge crossing the Katy Trail, recycling the demolition debris, and keeping thousands of tons of potential waste from heading to an area landfill.
Every little bit helps, from my weekly 15 or so pounds of recyclable waste to the 70 pounds of plastic Curtis Dowden is committed to collecting. The 10,000 pounds of waste averted from a New Franklin area landfill to the more than 8 billion pounds of waste MoDOT has recycled since 2005. Being green is a goal MoDOT strives to achieve and these statewide recycling awards show the commitment.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
“You’re my savior!”
“Now I won’t be late for work.”
“Thank you for getting me off this busy highway.”
Those are just a few of the things I heard drivers say recently to St. Louis motor assist operators. I had the great pleasure of riding along with a few of these MoDOT team members to see why it’s important to keep highway traffic moving, and experienced a lesson in humanity as well.
The main goal of MoDOT's motorist assist program is to keep traffic moving on the busy highways in the St. Louis and Kansas City area. For every minute a lane is closed… 20 minutes of backup is the result. This is not only problematic for traffic flow, but dangerous too. Cars and trucks go zipping by at speeds exceeding 70 MPH and many of these stranded motorists feel confused as to what to do next. Many people don’t know why their car stalled, how to change a tire, or have anyone to call if they run out of gas. It was quite amazing to see relief and joy appear on dozens of faces once they realized help had arrived and their stopped vehicle was able to get going again. It was nice to see people get the help they desperately needed, but I also noticed that by assisting these motorists it allowed for everyone else to continue safely down the highway.
I was glad to see just how dedicated MoDOT motorist assist operators are when it came to helping drivers and keeping traffic running smoothly. I was a part of more than 25 assists and the MoDOT operators I took a ride with were able to get every one of these stranded drivers off the shoulder and back on the highway. Many Missourians don’t realize this service exists and are even more surprised when they’re told the help is free.
Let’s hope none of you have to deal with car troubles that force you off the road, but feel solace in the fact that help from MoDOT and motorist assist operators is on the way.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services are effective and necessary, but are no longer moving the numbers in the direction they need to be headed. We need some new and innovative ways to get Missourians to buckle up.
If you have a crazy, wild, might-just-work idea for increasing seat belt use, we want to hear it! Tweet @saveMOlives, post it to our Facebook or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
You are 42 times more likely to die in a crash if you are not wearing your seat belt. In 2009, 880 people were killed in traffic crashes. Of those killed, 67.2 percent were not wearing a seat belt. For more information, videos and statistics on the benefits of seat belts visit www.savemolives.com.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
MoDOT Motor Carrier Services got to do that at a recent ceremony, when our division and the MoDOT Springfield Area District received Governor's Awards for Quality and Productivity.
Motor Carrier Services earned honors in customer services. Our group handles the licensing of Missouri-based motor carriers. We also collect fees, taxes and enforce safety laws. Here's the big news: the people we license, tax and hold to the law are happy to work with us! In fact, 95.7 percent of them report they are satisfied - or very satisfied - with our service. A government agency. Wow.
We, in turn, are awed by our co-workers in southwest Missouri. The Springfield Area District earned the first-ever GAQP Pinnacle Award for constructing the first Diverging Diamond Interchange in the Western Hemisphere. The radical, lower-cost design dramatically improved safety and traffic flow in a heavily-congested area. They even completed the entire project in just six months. People found it easy to keep tabs on the project and quickly learned to use the "wrong" side of the road to get through the area quickly and safely. (I used to live nearby and am floored every time I drive through the area!)
It's very telling that even at the celebration, the two groups talked shop, discussing what new improvements could be made to the driving and freight-moving experience. It made me proud to be MoDOT.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Impaired driving continues to be a grave problem in Missouri and around the country leaving a human toll of lost lives, grief-stricken family and friends, injuries and disabilities that never go away. Over the last five years in Missouri, 1,348 people have been killed in impaired driving crashes and thousands more injured.
And the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an especially dangerous time of year on the roads. Between the two holidays in 2009, 88 people died in traffic crashes in Missouri (21 were alcohol-related) and 4,650 were injured (with 343 related to alcohol).
Some contend that those drinking and driving are simply hurting and killing themselves, but a substantial number of people killed or injured in these crashes are innocent victims. In fact, 31 percent of the fatalities and 40 percent of the injuries occurred to some other party involved in the crash – not the drinking driver or pedestrian.
So what can we do? Each of us can take the responsibility to drive sober, call a cab or designate a driver while celebrating this holiday season and urge all our friends and family to do the same. If you’ve had a personal experience with an impaired driving crash, you can share it with others on a special remembrance page at facebook.com/humantoll in hopes that more education will help others to not drive impaired and other families will be spared such tragedies.
When you get to your Thanksgiving meal this year, be thankful you got there safely and let’s all work together to Arrive Alive.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The talk at their table was about law enforcement of all kinds, and the unfair treatment of cops to guys like them. Although I can’t quote them directly from my middle-age memory, I can give you the highlights:
I was only going 10 mph over the limit, and they had the nerve to stop me!
That blankety blank cop asked how much I’d had to drink!!
I think they are just out to raise some money by giving tickets!
Now, I can’t say that I’ve never in my life done anything wrong. But when it comes to the men and women who work in law enforcement, I know three things: I know that they are doing their job, I know I don’t want to do their job and I know they are trying to protect us from ourselves and the other crazy people out there who think the cops are just out to get them. For that, I am thankful!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
But lately, my friends are probably starting to hear the sound of chopper blades when I’m around. Okay, I may preach a little about the benefits of seat belts and always ask if everyone in my car is buckled. Not to mention telling them they absolutely cannot text and drive.
I’ve begun to notice when my friends call me from their cell now, they quickly tell me they aren’t driving or that they didn’t text me earlier because they WERE driving.
So I think I’m developing a rep as the ENFORCER among my friends, family and neighbors.
Is it who I want to be? Well…. I’m a grownup now and I guess if it keeps any one of them, or anyone else from hearing the sounds of chopper blades from the Lifeflight helicopter after a car crash then it’s a badge I’m willing to wear, with honor.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Eads Bridge photo above has been chosen for the cover shot and January photo for the 2011 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials calendar. It was taken by Cathy Morrison with MoDOT.
The photo shows the golden hour of Eads Bridge, a combined road and railway bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis, Illinois. Today the road deck has been restored, allowing vehicle and pedestrian traffic to cross the river. The rail deck has been in use for the St. Louis MetroLink light rail line since 1993.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
toll: verb -- To ring slowly, with regularly repeated strokes, esp. for announcing a death
The human toll of impaired driving is devastating.
In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1,140 seriously injured in crashes involving a drunk driver. In Missouri, someone is killed or injured in an impaired driving crash every 1.9 hours.
Those that are killed leave a void that no one can fill. They leave behind family, friends and loved ones who are haunted by their loss.
But, not everyone is killed in a drinking-involved crash. Some are injured and their physical wounds heal with time, some suffer permanent and disabling injuries. Some victims have difficulty overcoming the emotional and psychological impact of the crash. All are changed forever.
Visit our wall on Facebook at www.facebook,com/humantoll. We want to remember those who have been injured or killed in impaired driving crashes and to remind others of the importance of driving sober not only this holiday season but always.
We invite you to share your story of how impaired driving has affected your life, or the life of someone you love.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
People started clicking on the link to ask questions about projects, road conditions, public meetings and anything else that was on their mind.
As the person who oversees the website, I saw that as a huge success! Web visitors didn’t have to navigate to a comment form or hunt down a phone number. Now they were talking to us whenever they felt like it. My comments from the site tripled in a matter of weeks. While we didn’t actually receive a lot of comments about the site, we did get to hear from citizens on about every other topic.
We still have more detailed comment forms on the site, and we still want you to call 1-888 Ask MoDOT whenever you feel like it. But if you’re surfing our site, and something crosses your mind, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the word balloon. We’ll make sure your comment makes it to the right person.
Monday, November 8, 2010
My husband is willing to give those who irritate him the benefit of the doubt. When someone blazes past him, obviously flaunting the speed limit, he remarks that the driver must have a digestive issue and has urgent needs to attend to.
What about the folks who spend their workday on the road? What behavior would professional drivers most like other highway users to change?
MoDOT posed that question to participants in the Missouri Truck Driving Championships. The answers are posted in a "Trucker on the Street" segment on MoDOT's YouTube site.
I bet you can guess what they say before you watch the video:
- Pay attention to your surroundings
- Buckle up
- Be courteous. Show respect.
- Give everyone enough space.
- Use turn signals.
Stay tuned. More Trucker on the Street videos are coming soon.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Welcome to the ultimate Missouri vacation experience giveaway. Thanks to Amtrak, 94.3 KAT Country and Missouri River Runner (MoDOT) you can have it all!
Who couldn’t use a Missouri vacation? I know… I know some of you are thinking that you sometimes need a vacation after your vacation, but what if you didn’t have to always drive to your vacation destination? What if you could log on and surf the web while glimpsing at scenic Missouri River views when traveling? What if the kids could grab a snack all while making a childhood memory of the family trip experience on a train?
KAT Country’s “KATcations Contest” is giving away a trip for four!…Read contest details here.
Need some vacation ideas?
In Independence visit the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum; get exercise and maybe lost in a corn maze in Warrensburg. We all know that there will always be a welcoming winery in Herman. In Sedalia, stay at the Hotel Bothwell and immerse the family into the 1920’s. Do some shopping in Kirkwood; experience the City Museum and a Rams Game in St. Louis. Take in a dinner at the Westport District in Kansas City; not to mention, a spa weekend getaway and afternoon at the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City. Visit an old Indian trading post at Fort Charrette Historic Village in Washington, MO; and maybe you can catch a circus puppet show in Lee’s Summit.
Go see Missouri on the Missouri River Runner!
So sign up, relax and enjoy the ride…and please tell us all about your train experiences!
Notice our new Missouri River Runner train schedule effective November 8, 2010
Sign-up here to enter contest!
Follow us on Twitter!
Be our friend at Facebook!
Visit Missouri tourism!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
So if your house is anything like ours, you've probably had your heater checked out for the winter, switched out all your summer clothes for the cold-weather clothes, and made sure your cars are ready for the snow. Just as we prepare our homes and vehicles for the cold weather, MoDOT employees are busy getting ready for the snow.
The department does lots of things to make sure we're ready for that first snowfall including stocking buildings with salt and beet juice, and ensuring plows and crews are ready by Nov. 1 for bad weather. New this year, we've added additional training on some of our equipment like the TowPLow.
For anyone out there who doesn't speak DOT language, the TowPLow is a really cool piece of equipment we've been using for a few years. It is a 26-foot plow created in Missouri, and now used in 10 other states and parts of Canada. It is designed to trail behind a standard plowing truck and can clear two traffic lanes at one time, the same as two standard snowplows, which saves a lot of time and resources. The department has 65 of these being used in all areas of the state on multi-lane highways, and it's just one of the tools we're using to make sure we keep roads safe for motorists while making the most of our resources.
Something else new for motorists this year is the updated Traveler Information Map on MoDOT's website that now includes weather radar imagery. Viewers can see what is happening and what is coming their way. New categories to better describe winter road conditions include the following: Closed, Covered, Partly Covered, Mostly Clear and Clear.
When bad weather hits, MoDOT will focus on getting roads drivable by treating the highest-traveled major roads and regionally significant roads first until they are mostly clear. All the remaining less-traveled roads will be plowed to allow for safe travel concentrating on hills, curves and intersections.
MoDOT has more than 3,000 employees and more than 1,600 pieces of equipment ready to fight the winter storms. Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass plows. We want everyone to get home safely. Buckle up, and remember, when driving in ice and snow, take it slow.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
In addition, the new diverging diamond interchange in Springfield, Mo., won the Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation. The award goes to a project that brings value to the public. In this case, the interchange allows traffic to move faster, reduces congestion, increases safety and saves money.
Also, Interim Director Kevin Keith received the President's Transportation Award for Administration. He was recognized for exemplary service and impacting transportation by implementing Practical Design, a cost-saving strategy that has now become our standard way of doing business.
This recognition shows we're working hard to provide quality transportation and use resources wisely. Congratulations to all of those who worked with these projects and were a part of bringing about practical, innovative solutions to achieve tremendous results.
Friday, October 29, 2010
In fact, Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to impaired drivers. According to a study over a 20-year period by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, four times the number of elementary and middle school-aged children were killed by a car or truck on Halloween when compared to all other evenings.
In 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved an impaired driver. In 2009 in Missouri, there were six people killed and 34 seriously injured in traffic crashes during the Halloween weekend. Of the six people killed, two involved an impaired driver and 80 percent were unbuckled.
So for everyone planning a Halloween party for more than the kids, keep in mind the following tips:
* Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
* Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
* If you’re impaired, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
* If you suspect a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement.
* Always buckle up. It’s your best defense in a crash.
* Slow down and stay alert!
Besides looking out for impaired drivers, all motorists need to be aware that on a night such as Halloween, children dressed in costumes can run out onto streets and roadways. To avoid real-life Halloween horrors, remember the following if you are trick or treating with your kids:
* Walk on sidewalks if at all possible.
* Make sure cars can see you by wearing reflective strips and carry a flashlight.
* Don’t assume a vehicle is going to stop for you – the driver may not be paying attention or see you.
* Watch carefully for kids in the streets and stay close to your own little “monsters.”
For more information, visit www.saveMOlives.com
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Foristell Police Department was awarded the car by MoDOT's Division of Highway Safety for their 2009-2010 DWI enforcement efforts. They were randomly selected from 105 law enforcement agencies that participated in all five statewide DWI enforcement campaigns from August 2009 through July 2010.
Statewide DWI enforcement campaigns are held for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, the annual You Drink & Drive, You Lose. Campaign and during the December You Drink & Drive, You Lose. holiday campaign.
During the statewide campaigns from August 2009 through July 2010, law enforcement officers statewide issued 2,385 driving while intoxicated violations. In addition, citations and warnings were issued for 16,521 speeding violations, 3,770 safety belt violations and 309 child restraint violations.
In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1140 seriously injured and 3719 received minor injuries in crashes involving an impaired driver.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
|For construction schedules, visit www.modot.org/safeandsound.|
KTU Constructors is MoDOT's design-build contractor. They won the contract in May 2009 to design and build 554 new bridges across the state. After spending several months getting their team in place, and starting the design process, KTU built four bridges last fall to test some of the construction techniques they expected would help them meet the challenge of rapidly building 554 new bridges in less than five years.
They started anew in March, and last Saturday reopened a bridge on Route M over Shankton Branch in Putnam County (near the Iowa-Missouri border) to hit the century mark. They've completed two more since then, and currently have 44 bridges under construction. In the next two weeks, KTU will begin work on 12 more projects to wrap up the 2010 construction season.
By the end of the year, weather permitting, KTU should have more than 150 new bridges completed.
But wait until 2011! Armed with lessons learned from this year; with the design process complete; and with a full inventory of precast beams awaiting delivery to job sites across the state, KTU plans to step on the gas. They have more than 300 bridges scheduled for 2011, with construction to begin in February.
The Safe & Sound program is well on its way to delivering 802 new and improved bridges to Missouri. Including the 'quick-start' bridges that MoDOT built last year outside of the design-build contract, Safe & Sound has repaired or replaced 265 bridges since April 2009. The pace has accelerated to where a new bridge is opening very two days.
To stay abreast of construction schedules, visit the Safe & Sound interactive map at www.modot.org/safeandsound
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My family and I recycle every piece of trash we can, and we pick up trash other people leave on the ground, so I understand the value of taking care of our environment. That’s why it’s so exciting when I hear of things MoDOT is doing to make a difference.
MoDOT Maintenance Superintendent Owen Hasson from our St. Louis District found a way to not only sweep up trash on St. Louis area streets and make them safer for motorists, but to help the environment and save the department tons of clean cash. Thanks to a dedicated sweeping crew and a new mobile screening unit, MoDOT has the potential to reduce its contribution to our urban landfills by up to 90 percent, while at the same time producing usable fill that can be used back on various road operations.
In March this year, crews started using the new screening unit to screen the street sweepings, producing a clean usable fill and reducing landfill debris and disposal costs. One cubic yard of sweepings weighs over one ton and thousands of cubic yards of sweepings are sent to landfills each year. Area landfill companies charge up to $45 a ton to dispose of sweeping debris. Hasson worked with the Department of Natural Resources to approve the usable fill.
So far this year, night sweeping crews have picked up 2,224 cubic yards of road debris. To haul this debris straight to the landfill would have cost more than $131,000. By filtering out the sweeping debris and reusing the cleaned sweepings, the disposal cost is reduced to under $20,000, saving $101,000 in landfill fees from these night crews alone.
Night crews represent only a fraction of the debris swept up in the St. Louis area. During the day, routine maintenance crews sweep up debris from the other major roads in the area and dump that debris at their buildings to be screened by the mobile screening unit.
Hopefully this process can be expanded in other areas to save even more money and reduce what goes to our landfill. Kudos to our St. Louis Area District and Owen Hasson for looking for creative ways to save money and help the environment!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Small children in the back screaming for the sippy cup they dropped, the dog whimpering for some attention, and a desperate need for some caffeine to finish up the 90 miles to Grandma's house, all while Barney and Elmo rock out to the latest counting song.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The problem with texting is that too many texts are being sent from behind the wheel. I can’t get in my car and drive anywhere without seeing at least one person texting while driving. Just last week I passed a car that had been weaving between lanes for a good five miles only to figure out why: she was texting.
In 2008, 4,457 teen drivers ages 15 to 19 were involved in fatal crashes, and 16 percent (692) were distracted at the time of the crash. While it can be hard to put away your phone and ignore that pesky little beep of a new text message, the risk it poses to you and others on the road is just not worth it.
This week is Teen Driver Safety Week. Talk to your teen about distracted driving. Remind them that it’s prohibited for drivers under 22 and that it carries a hefty fine: $200.
For more information about teen driving safety, visit saveMOlives.com.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Up to 25 people can participate in two tours each month. They are 1.5 hours long and take place on the final Friday of each month at 12:30 and 2 p.m.
"This is a good opportunity for people to see the ongoing activities on the river as part of building the main span for the new bridge," said Greg Horn, P.E., project director for the New Mississippi River Bridge. "We have to limit tours though to minimize the impact to our contractor team and to ongoing construction."
Reservations are required. For full details, call 314-453-1808 and schedule your tour!
Friday, October 15, 2010
As the mom of two teenagers and a preteen, I cherish any quality time I can get with my kids in today’s fast-paced world. But I wasn’t so sure how special that time was going to be when I first learned some of the QT – 40 hours precisely - was going to be spent on the road with my just-learning-to-drive, 15-year-old son (a requirement of Missouri’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program).
When I really thought about it, though, I realized he really needed to practice his driving skills and our time together would give us teachable moments about the rules of the road. So, first it was off to the Capitol Mall parking lot in the family car. It was great! We had a lot of wide open space, yet he had to drive slowly and it gave us lots of opportunities to practice turns, stopping at stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, etc.
Eventually we hit the streets and went on longer drives outside the city limits. This is where my comfort zone was tested … often. I did my best to stay calm and helpful, but my knuckles got a little whiter and there were many times I tried to slam on brakes that just don’t exist on the passenger side floorboard, especially riding down the very narrow lanes on Rte. 179 to our church.
Most of the time, his dad or I practiced with him during the daytime. But, the GDL program requires that 10 of the 40 hours of practice driving occur at night. Good thing, too, because since he got licensed more than a year ago, he has done plenty of night driving; i.e., closing at work, late night arrivals after Friday night football games, etc.
Overall, our 40 hours of QT behind the wheel was a good experience. And somewhere along the way, I became MoDOT Mom because of my constant reminders to him to wear his seat belt. Many times, both then and now, I have shared tragic stories about teens who have died in traffic crashes because they weren’t wearing their seat belt. I can only hope and pray this will drive the message home.
Unfortunately for many teens, their lack of experience behind the wheel puts them at a higher risk for traffic crashes. Did you know that our teen drivers only make up 9 percent of licensed drivers, but they are involved in nearly 24 percent of traffic crashes? Or, were you aware that of the 104 teens killed in traffic crashes in 2009, 76 percent were not wearing their seat belt. We don’t want our son to become part of these statistics, so his dad and I gladly took on our responsibility of helping him become a good, safe driver.
Ahh, but that will soon start all over again. You see, our daughter begins driver’s training next year. This time around, we look forward to using MoDOT’s newly redesigned teen safe driving guide, Road Wise. The parent tips in the booklet will help guide her learning experience and we will use the log in the back to track her practice time. It will be a great tool to help teach her the importance of driving safely. But even greater will be the 40 hours of quality time we will have together.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Congratulations to those working with the kcICON Project in Kansas City, selected as the top road project and the fifth best bridge project of 2010 by Roads and Bridges magazine! Check the photos of the ribbon-cutting event last month. For a view from the top, don't miss the Shaky Cam video at http://bit.ly/am7fIU.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
In part two of Missouri Miles, we take you to the Show Me Safety Fair in St. Louis. The fair is complete with lessons about the dangers of drinking and driving and stresses the importance of wearing your seat belt. We also have a story on how MoDOT is going green in a very big way.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I haven’t ridden on a train in a very long time, so yesterday was an awesome experience. Instead of heading to the office as usual, I boarded the Columbine car, one of several Union Pacific heritage series cars being pulled by the Challenger 3985 – a 1940s-era steam engine. It is one of only two steam engines of its kind that still runs today.
Soon we were departing for Washington, Missouri. I was awed by the site of the fog still rolling off the Missouri River as we pulled away from Jefferson City. The thick, billowing steam from the engine continuously rolled over the top of the train, helping block the bright glare of the sun on this crisp fall morning. The sway on the tracks and the clacking of the car connectors wasn’t enough to distract from the beautiful view of bluffs and trees now beginning to sport their fall colors.
Not too long into the journey, we passed over the Osage River. This is where a second train bridge will soon be built with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to MoDOT. This project will help eliminate another bottleneck that impacts the speed and velocity of today’s modern trains.
Later, we passed over the Gasconade River where UP eliminated a bottleneck two years ago by completing a second track over the Gasconade River. Then just before we got to Washington, the train correctly stopped to let the westbound Amtrak train go by.
Throughout the journey, we must have been quite a sight to see for the many people who were stopped at crossings along the way and in the quaint towns nestled by the tracks.
Although the Challenger left us behind there to travel on to Illinois, it will return to Missouri this weekend as a part of Sedalia’s sesquicentennial celebration. What a fitting tribute to a city that was shaped by railroad history. What a great way I have discovered to see Missouri!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
91 miles. That’s the distance Jim and Theo Feeney walked to raise funds for MoDOT’s Fallen Workers Memorial. The couple hiked nine hours a day for four days. At night, various friends put them up along the way. It’s the second year the Feeneys have made the journey.
Jim Feeney is a maintenance crew leader in MoDOT’s St. Louis district. He came up with the idea for the fund-raising effort two years ago.
"I told my wife I wanted to walk to Jefferson City to raise awareness of the memorial," Feeney said. "She said: ‘Can I go?’ "
This year, the Feeneys started their trek on the Katy Trail in Weldon Spring, Saturday, Oct. 2 and finished in Jefferson City, Tuesday, Oct. 5.
"Aside from my wife almost stepping on a couple of snakes, the most interesting part of the walk was the people," Jim said. "It’s humbling to find out how many good people are out there."
Since 1932, 130 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty. Plans are under way to create a statewide memorial honoring these fallen men and women. The memorial will be funded by private donations. Feeney has personally raised over $3,000 toward the cause.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the memorial fund can make a check payable to State Highway & Transportation Employees Association of Missouri and mail it to: District 7 Highway Credit Union, Attn: Dave B. Taylor, 3901 East 32nd St., Suite A, Joplin, Mo., 64804
Monday, October 4, 2010
Using Dum Dum pops and Smartie candies is one way students enforce seat belt use in Battle of the Belt. Students wearing their seat belts receive Smarties to reinforce this lifesaving decision while students failing to buckle up get a Dum Dum.
According to the results of the latest statewide seat belt survey, teen seat belt use is up to 66 percent from 61 percent. Unfortunately, that means 34 percent still aren’t wearing their seat belts and are at a greater risk to get injured or killed in traffic crashes.
Battle of the Belt 2010 kicks off today. Missouri high schools will be competing to increase seat belt use among students.
More than 200 Missouri high schools signed up for this year’s competition, an 38 percent increase in participation from last year.
Battle of the Belt consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure student seat belt usage before and after an educational campaign on the importance of safety belt use.
Statewide awards are given to schools who reach 91 percent or higher seat belt usage. Awards are also given at the regional level to schools with the highest overall seat belt usage and most improved seat belt usage.
Schools also have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up.
Last year’s winning PSA came from Washington High School and can be viewed below. It featured the slogan “Everyone’s a Winner when you Buckle Up.”
Teen seat belt usage increased by 5 percent in 2010. Sixty-six percent of Missouri teens buckle up. Teen seat belt usage remains below Missouri statewide usage (76 percent) and national seat belt usage (85 percent).
Find out more about Battle of the Belt here.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Last spring, the Heart of America Bridge began the transition from a motorist-only bridge to a multi-use Missouri river crossing with paths for bikes and pedestrians. That project opened to a crowd of bike, walking and running enthusiasts at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1.
Friday, October 1, 2010
But when I was growing up, I don’t remember anyone encouraging walking to school the way we do now. The entire month of October is Walk to School Month, October 4-8 is Walk to School Week and October 6 is International Walk to School Day.
Kids need 30-60 minutes of exercise each day. Walking or cycling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity. Roughly 10% of children nationwide walk to school regularly. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25% are regular walkers.
So why not use this month as an opportunity to stretch your legs and get moving. Encourage others to do the same. Organize a Walk to School Day or week this month. You might find that your kids enjoy it so much they’ll want to do it every day (weather permitting of course – we do live in Missouri).
MoDOT oversees the Safe Routes to School program which provides safer biking and walking accommodations for children in grades K-8. The program is designed to provide public awareness and outreach efforts and improve biking and walking conditions around schools.
To find out more about Safe Routes to School, visit http://www.modot.org/safety/SafeRoutestoSchool.htm.
To find out what events are planned in Missouri or to plan one of your own, visit http://www.walktoschool.org/who/seestate.cfm?st=MO.